Tourists Nervous, But Not Panicked Over Impending Iceland Volcano Eruption. Here's What You Need to Know

Brittany Jones-Cooper
Editor, Yahoo Travel
August 29, 2014

Bardarbunga iceland
Bardarbunga iceland

Bardarbunga is a subglacial stratovolcano located under Iceland’s largest glacier. (Photo: AP)

It’s the final countdown.

In preparation for the eruption of Bardarbunga, Iceland briefly closed its airspace after another earthquake caused a kilometer-long fissure near the temperamental volcano.

Officials initially raised the aviation warning to its highest level — red.  This prohibited planes from flying up to 18,000 feet in fear that an ash cloud would impact aircraft. Officials have since downgraded the alert to orange (the next highest level), and reopened all Icelandic airports, which will allow planes to fly within a 3-mile radius of the volcano.

Related: They’re Hot… REALLY Hot: Active Volcano Tours You Can Take

volcano eruption iceland
volcano eruption iceland

This image was taken on August 29 over the eruption site. (Photo: Department of Civil Protection/Facebook)

According to the Department Civil Protection and Emergency Management, the threat level was downgraded after the latest information about the volcanic eruption indicated that the “airborne ash material produced was minimal.” 

Well, for now, at least. 

The locals don’t seem too concerned. Anna Bödvarsdottis is a proprietor at Gamla Rif, a small restaurant in Hellissandur, and thinks the eruption could be good for business. “It doesn’t bother me,” she told Yahoo Travel. “Iceland became a tourist country after the volcano in 2010. It went crazy after.”

Chris Beals is visiting Iceland from New York and is slightly nervous, but attempting to take his lead from the locals. “Most of the Icelandic people we met seemed fairly unconcerned,” he told Yahoo Travel. ”The flood zone — if the volcano erupted — would have been fairly close by and had already been evacuated,” 

As we wrote previously, officials have been keeping an eye on Bardarbunga and will continue to watch it closely. Since history tends to repeat itself, here’s what you might expect if Bardarbunga blows, with a look back to 2010 and the impact of the volcano Eyjafjallajökull. 

2010 volcano eruption
2010 volcano eruption

Iceland’s Eyjafjallajokull glacier sends ash into the air in 2010. (Photo: AP)

Last time this happened:

Volcano: Eyjafjallajökull erupted on April 14, 2010.

Regions Affection: Airspace was temporarily closed in Great Britain, Ireland, Scotland, Spain, Portugal, Northern Italy, Austria, and Germany.

Canceled Flights: Figures suggest that more than 95,000 flights were canceled over a six-day period. 

Stranded passengers: Approximately 10 million.

Money Lost: The International Air Transport Association (IATA) estimated that the eruption caused the aviation industry $1.7 billion nationwide in six days. 

What does this mean for travelers this time round? Stay informed. The Department of Civil Protection and Emergency Management has a handy Twitter account that is being updated constantly with photos and new information about Bardarbunga. You can also follow information as it’s updated on the department’s website and Facebook. 

And as always, considering travel insurance is a good idea. Services like Allianz or Travel Guard have packages that allow passengers to cancel trips at any time. You can also use a site like InsureMyTrip, which gives side-by-side comparisons of different insurance carriers. Just be sure to read the fine print. Some carriers have different rules pertaining to trip cancellation and may not include an ash cloud as an acceptable reason. 

WATCH: What Makes a Volcano Erupt?:

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